Harold David Wilson had it all.
The brash former radio talk show host was the King of Glace Bay. He won the
seat in four provincial elections, and by all accounts, he could easily have won
But David Wilson has a gambling problem.
Thursday, during Wilson's sentencing hearing for fraud, breach of trust and
uttering forged documents, the court was told that a doctor who examined Wilson
at the request of the prosecution service found he has a "pathological gambling
Wilson's love affair with gambling started in the mid 1990s when he started
In 1999, after winning his first election, he started playing the slot
machines at the casino, whenever he was in Halifax to attend the
By about 2005 Wilson was addicted. He started going to the casino three or
four nights a week. He moved up to the "high rollers" room where you can bet as
much as $100 on a single slot. His habit was costing him anywhere from $3,000 to
$4,000 a week.
That's when he started stealing from the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.
In January, 2006 Wilson submitted his first false expense claim. The amount
was $1,200. As with his gambling, he couldn't stop. Over the next four years
Wilson submitted another 35 fraudulent claims totalling $61,000.
He didn't even stop when staff from the Auditor-General's office started
poking into MLA expenses. Wilson says he lied to investigators when they first
interviewed him in July, 2009. Even though he knew MLA spending was under
scrutiny, he continued to file false expense claims.
The only thing that stopped him was getting caught.
But Wilson didn't just stuff taxpayers' money down those casino slots. Bank
records, introduced in court, show that during a five-year period dating back to
2005, Wilson withdrew $130,716 from the three ATM machines inside the Halifax
In 2001, Wilson took out a mortgage for $18,000 dollars on his modest home
in Glace Bay. He re-mortgaged the home in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008. By the time
he was forced to sell his home, the mortgage had grown to more than
Moments before being sentenced, Wilson told the court he tried everything
he could to stop gambling, but nothing worked. He spoke of his shame and
humiliation. He apologized to his constituents, former colleagues, and the
people of Nova Scotia. And finally, Wilson apologized to his family, especially
his three children, for the pain and suffering he has inflicted on them.
Those of us in the courtroom saw firsthand the impact on Wilson's children.
When the judge sentenced him to 9 months in jail, Wilson's 18 year-old daughter,
who had sat stoically beside her father throughout the day, collapsed sobbing
uncontrollably. Her older brother tried to comfort her, but she could not be
Those sobs were the last thing David Wilson heard as sheriffs led him out
of court to begin serving his jail sentence.